The National Basketball Retired Players Association is counting down to tipoff of the 2023-24 season by honoring some of the game’s all-time greats in a series of skill-specific highlight videos. Featured in the first edition of “Mixtape Mondays” is Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy, whose peerless court vision and unbelievable creative flair as a passer and ball handler not only led to six titles alongside Bill Russell, but paved the way for an entire sport’s worth of superstar playmakers to come.
“He was the ultimate creator,” said Tommy Heinsohn said of his Celtics teammate, per Larry Schwartz of ESPN. “Let me put it in perspective — if you think Magic Johnson could pass, if you think John Stockton can pass, multiply them by 10 and you have Bob Cousy.”
Heinsohn, the locally revered Celtics color commentator who died in 2020, was occasionally prone to hyperbole during Boston broadcasts. But anyone watching the mixtape below—let alone lucky enough to see him play in real-time—knows that Cousy’s influence extends far past Hall-of-Famers like Johnson and Stockton. Dubbed the “Houdini of the Hardwood,” Cousy’s dazzling playmaking exploits would look right at home in today’s highlight-filled NBA, too.
Cousy, now 95, won six championships with Russell, Red Auerbach and the Celtics in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He played in 13 All-Star Games and made 12 All-NBA Teams across 13 full seasons, also leading the league in assists eight times. Boston retired his No. 14 in 1963, eight years before “Cooz” was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Cousy’s passing will be a tough act to follow. Which league icon’s defining skill do you want to see profiled next in the NBRPA’s Mixtape Mondays?